How to Overcome Artistic Self-Doubt with Hulyen

Julienne Dadivas a.k.a. Hulyen is a comics artist and graphic designer. She graduated from the University of the Philippines, Diliman in 2012. She is the author of the UGH comics series, and her works have been published in Komikon’s Sulyap comics anthology, Scout magazine, and Young Star. And this coming November Komikon 2017, a complete volume of her comic, UGH is coming out. For more of Hulyen and her work, you can follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, or Twitter.

 

 

 

Q: Everyone has an origin story. Could you share with us the exact moment (or moments) wherein you realized that you wanted to become an artist?

Mahilig na ako magbasa ng comics nung bata ako, pero hindi ko pa naisip noon na kaya ko din gawin ‘yun kasi hindi naman ako magaling sa art. Na-inspire ako gumawa ng komiks nung nabasa ko yung Kikomachine Komix ni Manix Abrera at Alamat ng Panget ni Apol Sta Maria.

[I’ve been fond of reading comics ever since I was a kid, but back then I didn’t think that I could make one because I was never really good at art. I was inspired to make comics when I read Kikomachine Komix by Manix Abrera, and Alamat ng Panget by Apol Sta. Maria.]

Nung nabasa ko yung Alamat ng Panget nung college, dun ko na-realize na pwede palang simple lang art style sa komiks. Di naman kailangan sobrang realistic ng drawing. Panalo talaga nung comics na ‘yun, tawa ako nang tawa.

[After I read Alamat ng Panget in college, that’s when I realized that you could actually use a simple art style in comics. You didn’t need to have super realistic drawings. Those comics really won me over because I couldn’t stop laughing. ]

First time ko sumali sa Komikon nung 2014. Sobrang saya kasi naka-publish ako ng something, kahit 20-page zine lang. Simula noon, lagi na ako sumasali ng mga convention at gumagawa ng comics.

[I first joined the Komikon in 2014. I was so happy because I got to publish something, even if it was just a 20-page zine. Since then, I always join conventions and make comics.]

 

 

Q: From that moment, and throughout your journey as an artist, what has been your biggest struggle?

I think my biggest struggle as an artist is self-doubt. Hindi ako graduate ng Fine Arts or Creative Writing at wala akong formal training. [I didn’t graduate in Fine Arts or Creative Writing, and I never had any formal training.]

Natutunan ko lang lahat ng alam ko sa comics on my own. So minsan talaga feeling ko hindi ako legit or hindi ako marunong mag-drawing.

[I learned everything I know about comics on my own. So sometimes I can’t help but feel like I’m not legit, or that I have no idea how to draw.]

 

Q: How have you been able to cope with (or overcome) this struggle?

I don’t know haha! Siguro tinutuloy ko lang gumawa ng comics. [I guess I just keep on making comics] I do my best not to worry too much.

Sobrang kinakabahan pa rin ako kapag nagpapasang illustration para sa isang project. Pero nawawala naman yun pag natapos ko na, napublish na, at nakita ko na yung feedback. Ok lang naman pala, ang paranoid ko lang minsan.

[I still get really nervous when I submit illustrations for a project. But that goes away when I’ve finished, and I’ve published, and I get to see the feedback. Everything turned out fine. I just feel so paranoid sometimes.]

 

Q: What would you consider is the ONE thing that REALLY helped you level up your skills?

Medyo tamad ata ako [I’m a bit lazy] as an artist, I don’t know if I do anything to level-up my skills.

Ewan ko kung nag-improve ako pero mas madalas na ako mag-drawing at magsulat ngayon simula nung lagi na akong nagdadala ng journal. [I don’t know if I’ve improved, but I found that I drew and wrote more often when I began to always carry a journal around with me.]

 

Q: What is one thing you’d wish you’d known before you started your artistic career? Why?

How to self-publish!

Hindi naman pala siya mahirap gawin. Madali lang pala sumali sa Komikon or BLTX, mag-register lang. Pwede pala ako magpaprint ng comics sa UP. Kung nalaman ko siguro yun nung college pa, mas maaga ako nagsimula gumawa ng zines at sumali ng comic conventions.

[I wasn’t hard to do after all. It was pretty easy to join the Komikon or BLTX—just register. I discovered I could have my comics printed in UP (University of the Philippines). If I’d known that back in college, I would have started making zines and joining comic conventions much earlier.]

 

Q: What drives or inspires you to continue making art or comics?

Hindi ko masabi kung ano, pero masaya ako na may iba akong ginagawa [I can’t say exactly what it is, but I’m happy that I’m doing something else] aside from my day job, something that I like and I am kinda good at.

Masaya ako sa comics kasi dito feeling ko successful ako. By successful I mean nakakapublish ako ng zine, may nagbabasa ng gawa ko, may mga pumupunta sa booth ko pag conventions, people appreciate my work. Di ko sinasabi na sobrang galing ko dito, pero parang compared sa ibang ginagawa ko sa buhay ko eto na yung pinaka okay haha.

[I’m happy with comics because here I feel successful. By successful I mean I get to publish a zine, people read my work, people visit my booth at conventions, people appreciate my work. I’m not saying that I’m really good at this, but compared to everything else I do in my life, this is the most okay, haha.]

 

Q: What does your average day look like? (And when do you fit in the time to create art?)

Medyo boring haha! [A bit boring] I have a day job so on weekdays I go to work. I commute.

So usually, kapag traffic, dun ako nagsusulat ng ideas at tinatype ko lang sa phone. Pag-uwi sa bahay minsan gumagawa ako ng comics hanggang madaling araw.

[So usually, when it’s traffic, that’s when I write  down my ideas and just type them on my phone. When I get home sometimes I make my comics until early morning the next day.]

Sometimes I try to draw sketch comics on my journal and post it on Instagram. Sa weekends lang talaga ako nakakaupo ng matagal sa desk ko at nakakagawa ng personal art. [It’s really only on weekends that I get to sit down for long periods at my desk and create personal art.]

 

Q: How do you deal with distractions or challenges that you encounter while you’re working on your art?

Making comics takes so much time.

Meron akong day job ako so ang hirap minsan hanapan ng time yung paggawa ng comics. Dahil siguro sa time constraints, ginawa ko nalang mas simple yung drawings ko. Mas simple yung line art, less details sa face pero kuha pa rin yung gusto kong emotions, konti lang yung colors. So I guess medyo nakatulong yung challenges sa pagdevelop ng sarili kong art style.

[I have a day job, so it’s hard sometimes to find the time to make comics. Maybe, because of time constraints, what I do is, I simplify my drawings. The line art is simpler, less details for the faces but still capturing the emotions I want to show, and only a few colors. So, I guess, the challenges help a bit in the development of my own art style.]

 

Q: What do you do when you feel just completely uninspired or burnt out? How do you motivate yourself to start working again?

I watch tv series, movies, read comics, sleep, clean my room, do household chores. Re-watch Kiki’s Delivery Service!

Minsan tumatakbo ako. Kahit anong ibang activity para di sayang oras ko. Tapos hopefully may maisip ako habang ginagawa yung mga yun.

[Sometimes I run. Any other activity so that my time isn’t wasted. And then, hopefully, I come up with something while doing those other things.]

 

Q: What would you say has been your most EPIC win so far?

Umabot ako sa UGH #3! Hindi ko naisip nung nagsimula ako mag self-publish ng comics na itutuloy ko siya.

[I finished UGH #3! I never thought, when I started self-publishing comics, that I would continue making them.]

I’m really thankful that people read and buy my works.

 

Q: What would you say has been your biggest failure?

Hindi naman siguro biggest failure kasi ang tagal na nito nangyari, pero hindi ako nakapasa sa Art Club nung high school! Feeling ko wala talaga akong talent sa art nung time na yun. Hindi ko na din sinubukan mag Fine Arts nung college dahil dun. Ok naman na ako ngayon. Graphic artist na trabaho ko at nag-kokomiks din ako.

[It might not be my biggest failure because this happened a long time ago, but I was rejected from joining the Art Club back in high school! I really felt as though I had no talent in art at that time. And because of that, I didn’t even try to take up Fine Arts in college. I’m okay now. I work as a graphic artist, and I also do comics.]

 

Q: What, for you, has been the best way to promote yourself and your work to potential fans, clients, or publishers?

On-line presence and joining local comic conventions. I post my works on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Hindi ko alam kung magkakaroon ako ng “comics career” kung wala yung Internet. Sobrang welcoming at mabait ng mga tao na nakilala ko lang sa local comics scene.

[I don’t know if I would ever have a “comics career” if I didn’t have the internet. The people I meet and get to know from the local comics scene are all so very welcoming and kind.]

 

Q: What has been your game plan throughout your journey? What’s the BIG picture here? The ultimate dream? The end game?

A book! And maybe to do comics and illustration full-time.

 

Q: What, for you personally, has been the source of your ideas, creativity and talent?

Ang source of ideas ko siguro ay life experiences, saka mga napapansin ko lang na mga nangyayari sa paligid.

[My source of ideas is probably life experiences, and the things I notice that are happening around me.]

Books, movies, music, the internet. Minsan memes!

 

Q: What is your big “WHY”?

I make comics because I don’t know what else I can do haha.

 

 

Quick-Fire Questions

 

Q: What 3 stories (comics, movies, documentaries, novels, etc.) would you say influenced and inspired your work the most?

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Lucky by Gabrielle Bell
Ang Alamat ng Panget by ApolSta Maria

 

Q: What are the top books, art books, blogs, podcasts, or workshops you’d recommend that helped you level up your skills?(Feel free to plug in as many as you’d like)

The Comics Journal (tcj.com), old episodes of Baby Geniuses Podcast where they interviewed some of my favorite cartoonists like Michael Deforge, Julia Wertz, Jillian Tamaki etc. I don’t know if these really helped level up my skills but I love listening to podcasts and reading about my favorite authors.

 

Q: If you could work remotely, from anywhere in the world, where would your office be? Why?

Sa magandang beach na may internet connection. Pero baka nakakatamad na magtrabaho pag ganun.

[At a beautiful beach with internet connection. But it may be a bit too relaxing to get work done that way.]

 

Q: Name ONE artist/writer that, if you could,you would pick their brain and find out all the hidden secrets behind their amazing work?

Molg H.

 

Q: Who do you consider your biggest mentor that helped you improve your skills?
(Doesn’t have to be someone you’ve met personally. Can be someone you look up to, or someone whose art really inspires you to get better.)

Lisa Hanawalt. I really love her comics and the tv series Bojack Horseman. When I was 22 years old, I used to run every morning and listen to her comedy podcast Baby Geniuses. I think that kinda helped me in life.

 

 

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